The State of Recycling in the United States: An Expert's Perspective

As an expert in sustainability and waste management, I have seen firsthand the impact of recycling on our environment. Recycling is a powerful tool that can keep waste out of landfills and even convert it into cost-effective manufacturing inputs. However, the current state of recycling in the United States is far from ideal, with only 32.1% of waste being recycled or composted. In this article, I will discuss the major deficiencies in our recycling system and who is leading the way in terms of recycling rates. Before we dive into the specifics, let me introduce myself.

My name is Angelika Pokovba and I am a lifestyle writer who is passionate about conscious living and travel. I have lived in various parts of the world, including a corner of the Mayan jungle, and have seen how different countries handle their waste management. Follow me on Instagram to learn more about sustainable living in Latin America and beyond. According to data from the report of the 50 recycling states, Maine has the highest recycling rate in the United States at a whopping 72%. This state has implemented smart recycling and waste management policies, such as DRS (deposit return system), landfill prohibition, EPR (extended producer responsibility), and disposal costs.

In addition, eight out of the top 10 states with the highest recycling rates also have some of the highest landfill disposal costs per ton. This shows that strong government oversight and investment in local infrastructure can greatly influence both consumers and businesses to recycle. However, it's not just about individual states. The report was intended to provide an objective perspective on our recycling system as a whole. And unfortunately, it confirms that the U.

S. is falling behind when it comes to recycling. Currently, only 25% of our waste is recycled, and it's up to all of us - consumers, policymakers, businesses, and government agencies - to reduce waste and improve recycling standards to respect planetary boundaries.

The Importance of Local Initiatives

One city that has made significant strides in recycling is Los Angeles. The city has implemented a three-group waste separation system, with blue containers for recyclable materials, green for compostable materials (diverting 80% of food waste), and black for landfill-bound materials.

In addition, the "Rethink LA" initiative has helped residents understand the importance of recycling and composting.

Government Action Needed

While individual efforts are important, we also need government action to truly make a difference. The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act is a bill that includes a ban on single-use plastic bags and polystyrene, requirements for companies to be responsible for waste collection, a national container deposit system, standardized labeling of recycling containers, and a suspension of permits for new plastic production plants. These measures can greatly reduce our reliance on single-use plastics and promote more sustainable alternatives.

The Truth About Glass Recycling

One common misconception is that glass is fully recyclable. However, according to a study by environmental consulting agency Eunomia in collaboration with Ball Corporation, only 29% of PET bottles are collected for recycling and only 21% of those bottles are actually converted into recycled materials due to contamination.

And when it comes to polypropylene, which is the second most common plastic in the world, only 1% is currently being recycled. But there is hope. Companies like Adidas have committed to using 100% recycled polyester in their products by 2024 as part of their mission to end plastic waste. And as consumers, we can also make a difference by properly sorting our waste and supporting companies that prioritize sustainability.

The Need for Change

It's clear that the U. recycling system is far from perfect.

Insufficient government oversight, varying state regulations, and lack of consumer education all contribute to the current state of recycling in our country. But it's not too late to make a change. By implementing smart policies, investing in local infrastructure, and promoting sustainable alternatives, we can improve our recycling rates and reduce our impact on the environment.

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